Russia to open polling stations in US for presidential vote

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Russia will open polling stations for its March presidential election at three diplomatic missions in the US, its envoy in Washington said Wednesday, as relations dip to an all time low since the Cold War over Ukraine.

The announcement came as Moscow said it has not yet decided if voting will take place in what it calls “unfriendly” European countries.

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The March 17 vote is expected to extend President Vladimir Putin’s long rule until at least 2030. He faces no real competition in the election, which will take place more than two years since Russia launched its Ukraine offensive.

“In the US, we plan to open three polling stations: in our embassy in New York, as well as our consulates in New York and in Houston,”

Russia’s ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in an interview published by his embassy.

The US has armed Ukraine against Moscow’s forces, and the West has imposed huge economic sanctions on Moscow.

Russia said last week it did not yet decide if it will open voting stations in Europe.

“We are asking countries to ensure security,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week.

She said a decision will be made by the end of January.

Thousands of Russians have fled their country after Moscow sent troops to Ukraine, with many residing in EU countries.

The vote will take place as Russia has banned criticism of its Ukraine offensive.

Putin, who will run for a fifth presidential term, has been in power since 2000.

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